Here now, let the wisdom of this world be as wise as ever it will, and from its learned throne condemn all this as enthusiasm; it need be no trouble to anyone, to be condemned by that wisdom, which God himself has condemned as foolishness with him. For the wisdom of this world has all the contrariety to salvation-wisdom, that the flesh has to the spirit, earth to heaven, or damnation to salvation. It is a wisdom, whose spirit and breath keep all the evil that is in fallen man alive, and which in its highest excellence has only the full grown nature of that carnal mind, which is enmity against God. It is a wisdom that is sensual, and devilish, that hinders man from knowing, and dying all those deaths, without which there can be no new life. It is a wisdom that turns all salvation-truths into empty, learned tales, that instead of helping the sinner to confess his sins, and feel the misery that is hid under them, helps him to an art of hiding, nay of defending them. For that which the lusts and passions do contrary to the wisdom from above, is proved to be right reason by this wisdom from below, whose greatest skill is shown, in keeping all the powers and passions of the natural man in peace and prosperity; and so the poor blinded sinner lives and dies in a total ignorance of all that light, blessing, and salvation, which could only be had by a broken and contrite heart. For (N.B.) with respect to conscience, this is the chief office of worldly wisdom; it is to keep all things quiet in the old man, that whether busied in things spiritual, or temporal, he may keep up the lusts of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, without any disturbance from religious phantoms, and dreams of mystic idiots, who for want of sober sense and sound learning, think that Christ really meant what he said in these words, "Except a man be born again of the Spirit, or from above, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." For this wisdom, come to its highest perfection, is a classic moral painter, which though it cannot alter the nature, yet can change the colors of everything; it can give to the most heavenly virtue such an outward form and color, as will force the stoutest of aged and learned men to run away from it; and to a vice of the greatest deformity it can pencil such charming features, as will make every child of this world, wish to live and die with it. Its next perfection is that of a flattering orator, who has praise and dispraise at his own free disposal; for as they are all of his own making, so he can dispose them on whom, and on what he will; not only as outward interesting occasions call for them, but also as the inward necessities, the ups and downs of his own poor self want them. For self, however willing to be always strong, has its weak hours, and would be ever tottering, unless this elbow-orator kept him every day (though perhaps not every night) free from the disturbing whispers of a seed of God in his soul. Now join (if you please) learning and religion to act in fellowship with this worldly wisdom, and make their best of it, and then you will have a depravity of craft and subtlety as high as flesh and blood can carry it, which will bring forth a glittering Pharisee, with a hardness of heart, greater than that of the sinner publican.